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Create your essay’s structure

Play with your food

This is

where you’ll play around with your vonnegutted essay—you’ll whip up two or three layer cakes and two or three hamburgers. 

Do this because

the order of your stories didn’t matter before—you were focused on the content and message. Now it’s time to play around with the flow and structure.

And, remember, it’s play! Don’t overthink this!

Now, do this

1

Get in the mindset.

You’re creating options. That’s all! 

  • Quick and simple. Quick and simple. Quick and simple.
  • There’s no getting it right or wrong. Play and experiment.
  • Be open to discovering surprises, the unexpected, the weird.
  • Be ok if you don’t discover anything out-of-the-ordinary.
  • The order of the content doesn’t matter.
  • Don’t worry about making sense, and certainly not about spelling, grammar, transitions, or smoothness.

2

Set up a new document.

  1. Create a document called Playing with food experiments.
  2. Write Option 1: layer cake at the top of the page
  3. Set the style to Heading 1
Your document should look something like this

3

Watch this video.

4

Make sure your vonnegutted draft is nice and colorful.

When you created options for your essay using the raw content, we asked you to color code the stories or events. Ideally, you’ll have 3-6 colors (but anywhere from 2-8 is ok).

Do you have at least 3 colors of text in your vonnegutted draft? Great. Move on.

Otherwise, see if you can make it a little more colorful.

Need more color? Do this.

Give each of your stories (or discrete sections, like a paragraph of your deep thoughts) its own text color (don’t use bright red; you’ll need that for placeholders):

  • getting lost in the forest
  • learning to bake with your grandmother
  • building a spaceship
  • the stuff in your room
  • deep thoughts about how important adventures are to you

If you only have one or two stories, that’s ok. Think instead about events.

For example, if your essay is about one theme, like baking, the events could be

  • baking cookies with your brother
  • learning to bake with your grandmother
  • making a birthday cake for your dog
  • your deep thoughts on the power of cookies to bring people together

Even if your essay is about a single event, like the day you and your brother burned the cookies and set the house on fire, you can still break it down to smaller events:

  • arguing about what kind of cookies to make
  • background/context about you and your brother learning to bake with your grandmother
  • forgetting about the cookies and starting the fire
  • what happened when your mom came home

You may have stand-alone sentences or phrases that don’t go with anything else. You can leave those black.

Hey! Pay attention here! This is important and a common concept people miss!

Every one of your layers cakes and hamburgers should be exactly the same number of words as your vonnegutted draft.

Use every story in the vonnegutted draft in every layer cake and hamburger.

If your vonnegutted draft is 1167 words, every one of your layer cakes and hamburgers should be 1167 words.

5

Bake at least 3 layer cakes.

Do not overthink this.

  1. Pick one of your color-coded stories or events to be the top layer of your cake.
  2. Copy it from your vonnegutted draft to your experiment.
  3. Pick another of your color-coded stories.
  4. Copy it into your experiment.
  5. Repeat until you’ve copied all the content in your vonnegutted draft into your experiment.

This is all you’re doing: creating a quick structure for your essay.

Now, do it again. Create at least 3 layer cakes.

You can rearrange the content in each of your stories later. For now, just stack one story on top of another.

Every option should be the same length—exactly the number of words in your vonnegutted draft. Use all of the content in every layer cake.

6

Grill up at least 3 burgers.

Making a hamburger is simple, but you probably have more potential ways to assemble the pieces.

Create your first burger:

  1. Pick one of your color-coded stories or events to be the bun.
  2. Copy-and-paste it from your vonnegutted draft to your experiment.
  3. Split it into two pieces with space in the middle.
  4. Pick another of your color-coded stories.
  5. Paste it in between the halves of the bun.

Repeat this until you’ve copied all of the stories between the halves of the bun. Don’t split up the stories in the middle.

Don’t overthink this!

Now, do it again. Create at least 3 burgers. There are several ways to play around with this.

You can:

  • use the same bun and rearrange the stories in between
  • use the same story for the bun but split it in a different place
  • use another story for the bun

You can rearrange the content in each of your stories later. But, for now, just create a simple hamburger.

Every option should be the same length—exactly the number of words in your vonnegutted draft. Use all of the content in every hamburger.

7

Take a break.

Now, take a break! Get away from your experiments for a while, even if it’s just an hour. This will give your brain time to relax and do a reset. Better yet, wait a day or two. (Unless you’re pushing the deadline, of course!)

    You're ready to move on when

    • You have at least 3 later cakes and 3 hamburgers.
    • Each layer cake or hamburger is exactly the same number of words—the number of words in your vonnegutted draft.